Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fell of the wagon this week

I fell off the wagon this week. As a recovering workaholic, I found myself seduced by the high of getting things done. Being “needed” is a powerful drug for me. Feeling useful, or even essential, produces the cocktail buzz of emotional energy – love, identity, security.

Unfortunately, like all drugs, there’s a flip side to deal with. The adrenaline rush that keeps me multi-tasking, juggling, and filling my hours with tasks upon tasks has its costs. Squeezing healthy choices to the sidelines, skipping my spiritual disciplines for “the cause”, also results in poor sleep, poor eating, and less exercise. I’m grabbing fast food, taking the car instead of walking, short-cutting primary relationships.

It takes some time before I realize the fun of being on top of my game is being driven by the emotional opposites of the high I’m running on. Seeking love, I find I’m driven by fears. Seeking identity, I’m caught on a gerbil wheel that requires “who I am” to be fed by endless running. Seeking security, I find myself looking over my shoulder (are my insecurities showing?) and wind up chasing my own tail.

From the high of the Transfiguration mountain I can almost hear the big daddy saying “This is my beloved”. All the effort to get to the mountain top is worth it. I’ve achieved the holy white glow. I’m in the company of Tommy Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr.

Just one thing. I’m alone up here.

So, what I must do, once again, is set fire to those ego-driven, tail-chasing, illusions of love. In the presence of the holy ones I put match to my own secret bonfire of vanity. As good as it feels to have that mountaintop view, to be able to say “I have a dream”, to see from the high pulpit what the lowly pew-sitters are missing – it’s a dangerous high, costly, and unsustainable.

Jesus’ wide-eyed disciples James and John, wanted to stay up there with him. On the way back down from the illusions of perfection, Jesus tells them “best not to mention this”. He knew that the trip up the mountain involved not only touching base with the heroes of Moses and Elijah. It  was also a reminder of his encounter with Shadow in the desert. What the disciples didn’t see up there was Satan who took him to the high place and offered it all – if only…

No, Moses and Elijah, Tommy and MLKJr,, all did their best work down by the riverside.

Take me to the River
Wash me in the Water
Won’t you wash me down
Put my feet on the ground

On Ash Wednesday, I smudge my brow with the ashes from the fire of my addictions.

We construct a kingdom on the floodplains where only the poorest are given land. The rich and mighty know that whatever’s built there is destined to be swept away by the next flood of greed-driven war or deficit-fighting excuses. Once again, the promises of justice, the programs to lift their children from despair, will have to wait.

As billions flood into bottomless coffers to sustain the “economy”. As first world nations become enslaved by the same debts that bottomed-out social health & education programs in third world nations. As the middle class is convinced that workaholism is the holy way of happiness. The victims of this generation’s flooding, are swept across global borders to find a place to begin again down by the riverside.

Down in that river we wash away the illusions of artificial man-made (yes man-made) borders. We wash away all that would separate us from one another. We wash away the ashes of our guilt – the mountaintop folly of aspirations. We wash away the religion of blind optimism.

The hope of love driven by fear. The hope of identity driven by work that sacrifices self. The hope of security driven by insecurities. This religion is popular and feeds our weakest hungers. It’s the lottery of life. Spend the riches life hands you in hope of a big payoff.

“To whom much is given – much is also expected”. My own big daddy would quote Jesus to me when he thought I was slacking off. The sting of that whip would spur me to achieve what I thought was expected instead of what I knew to be my true calling.

To bring more beauty into this world is why I’m here.

To be the paint on God’s brush combined with the colour you are. To create an image that strikes the heart.

To be the music of God’s instrument combined with your note. To lift our souls into harmony.

To be an ingredient in the stew of community. So savory when shared with souls hungry for something that’ll stick to God’s ribs. 

To be centered enough to spend my hours in rest and play and artfully done work. So that what comes from my life, clearly comes from the source of divine imagination beneath, above, below, before, behind and beside this ego I offer today to the great “I am”.

cartoons thanks to
the second cartoon captions read
"God as artist-loving artist"
"Draw close to God and God will draw close to you" (James 4:8)

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

More home truths and thoughts to lead me through Lent. I can't thank you enough.
Love, Bonnie